Officials in South Korea report, China has forcibly repatriated up to 600 defectors back to North Korea. Seoul stated on Friday that the rumours appear to be real, but it did not confirm the exact number of people repatriated.
According to Human Rights Watch, the defectors, who are largely women, could suffer incarceration, sexual abuse, or possibly death whenever they return to North Korea.
According to Human Rights Watch, hundreds of detainees were loaded onto trucks and sent to North Korea on Monday night.
“The government’s position is that North Koreans living abroad should never be forcibly repatriated against their will.” “Forced repatriation against one’s will is a violation of the international norm of non-refoulement,” said Koo Byoung-sam, a spokeswoman for the Unification Ministry of the South.
Non-refoulement requires that refugees and asylum seekers not be forced to return to countries where they may risk persecution. South Korea, according to Mr. Koo, has protested to China and restated its position. He refused to provide any other information.
Elizabeth Salmon, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in North Korea, says that 2,000 North Koreans are being imprisoned in China for illegally crossing the border.
North Korean defectors’ in China
China does not acknowledge North Korean defectors as refugees. Despite demands from other governments and human rights organisations to modify its approach, it argues they are “economic migrants” and has a policy of returning them.
When asked about the reported repatriations, Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, stated on Thursday that “there is no such thing as so-called ‘North Korean defectors‘ in China.” According to Reuters, he stated that Beijing maintains a “responsible attitude” towards North Koreans who enter China illegally for economic reasons.
Concerns about the forced return of North Korean defectors have intensified since Pyongyang reopened its borders in August, according to Human Rights Watch. It has certified the repatriation of around 170 defectors since July 2021.
Human Rights Watch said that the most recent returnees were at “grave risk” of being held in forced labour camps. They also face torture, enforced disappearance, and execution.
The rights group urged governments worldwide to “condemn China’s latest returns and demand an end to future forced returns.”
It also urged Beijing to allow North Korean defectors refugee status or safe transit to South Korea or other countries.
Meanwhile, North Korea has denied that Hamas used its weaponry in the attack on Israel, claiming that the accusation made in certain media reports was an attempt by Washington to shift blame for the crisis to a third country.
According to military analysts cited by Radio Free Asia, Hamas militants may be utilising North Korean weapons, and images of Palestinian fighters showed what appeared to be a North Korean rocket launcher.
According to the US government-owned Voice of America, an intelligence specialist believes that some of Hamas’ weapons came from North Korea.
Hamas Used North Korea’s weapons
“The US administration’s reptile press bodies and quasi-experts are spreading a groundless and false rumour that ‘North Korea’s weapons’ seemed to be used for the attack on Israel,” CNA reported.
“It is nothing but a bid to shift the blame for the Middle East crisis caused by its wrong hegemonic policy onto a third country and thus evade the international criticism focused on the empire of evil,” the statement stated.
On Thursday, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said he couldn’t corroborate information concerning the origin of Hamas’ rockets. The US security strategy elsewhere in the world, including the Korean peninsula, will be unaffected by the Israel-Hamas conflict, according to Kirby.
North Korea frequently blames the US for bringing the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war.
The Israeli war, in addition to the Ukrainian situation, has arisen as a “huge strategic burden” for Washington, according to KCNA, and has demonstrated the limitations of the US plan for hegemony and its ambition of becoming the sole world superpower.
The current Israeli-Palestinian war erupted over the weekend with a surprise Hamas strike, the bloodiest by Palestinian militants in Israeli history.